Fall in Line


“But I don’t want to!” An oft-repeated phrase (at least in my mind) when I was told — by basically anyone — to do something I didn’t feel like doing.

My parents started the ball rolling when I was little. They demanded I do all sorts of things: “Take out the compost,” “Look at me when I’m talking to you,” “Sit down over there and think about what you just did,” “Feed the dog,” “Make your bed”…

And the list goes on and on.

How dare they? And don’t even get me started about teachers… “Get to class on time,” “Do all your homework,” “No cheating”… The nerve!

I didn’t have a choice about my parents, having them as my primary authority, and of course I had to listen to and obey every teacher, every year. Then bosses, each one with their peculiarities and specific expectations.

Moving on to a place of authority was much better — if not easier, at least working from a place of power. I’ve reigned as co-family ruler with my husband, mother to my kids, teacher to my kids and the kids in the co-ops we’ve served, Sunday School teacher, elementary choir director, piano teacher… well, you get the idea. I am a “student of life,” digging into whatever subject tickles my fancy (whoa, Roman aqueducts are fascinating, let’s see what’s on YouTube about them… ). And teaching myself new piano or vocal songs (or both!) is a hoot.

All was well until I had the opportunity to take self-defense class. Now I love learning new things, but usually on my terms and in my time frame (a great way to minimize forays outside my cushy Comfort Zone). Now someone else was telling me what to do and on their terms. Again.

So what’s a stubborn, prideful girl to do? Well first things first. Do I really want to learn this stuff? Yes. Am I willing to be a student? Yes. What does it mean to be a student?

It means to fall in line. To choose to trust a trustworthy teacher and submit to her requirements. To firmly sit DOWN my stubborn little girl inside and question only for clarity. To put myself fully into the moment, learning whatever’s on the docket that day to my utmost ability.

It means I have to submit. Now, I’m not a historically good submitter. In fact, I’d say I’m naturally bad at it. Or at least I used to be. But I’m trying something new. I’m putting my stubbornness to good use by determining to learn the new technique and not quitting till I’ve mastered it. I’m deciding to humble myself so I can soak it all in.

You see, I’m not playing with this Women’s Self-Defense thing. I’m in — all in. I don’t know so much so there’s no end to what I can learn. Now that’s exciting. And who knows? My life — or the lives of those around me — just may depend on it. I need to be ready. And that means falling in line as the best student I can be.

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